The Phoenix Coyotes continued their recent surge by completing the season sweep against the Calgary Flames, besting their Western Conference foes 4-3 in Calgary last night. The Coyotes extended their unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1) and leap-frogged back into the fifth spot in the West with 85 points. The victory gets the Desert Dogs four points ahead of the Flames sitting in the 8th position with a game in hand.
It was another full team effort, but as in their recent games, the tone was set by the line of Shane Doan-Eric Bellanger-Lauri Korpikoski. The trio would connect for a pretty goal in the second period with Belanger converting on a quasi-breakaway to snap a 1-1 tie. Also, a strong game from Lee Stempniak saw him end his 21 game goal-less streak converting a great feed from Vernon Fiddler early in the first to give the Coyotes a 1-0 advantage.
Both teams would benefit from a fortuitous deflection along the way and Ilya Bryzgalov simply did what he needed to do to hold on for the win (with a bit of help from his best friend the post). The Flames certainly had opportunities, but in the end the Coyotes did enough to get the win and a fabulous start to this trip through Western Canada.
Two more big games remain for the Coyotes on this road trip with the Oilers on Thursday and Canucks waiting on Friday night. I'd imagine with so many games coming over the next three weeks, we may see Jason Labarbera between the pipes Thursday night to set up a well-rested Bryzgalov against the Canucks, but we shall see how Coach Tippett handles this situation. Bryz is heating up at the right time of year, but you'd hate to see him get worn down if possible.
BULLET POINT NOTES FROM THE GAME
- Lauri Korpikoski works in the corner and takes a puck from two Flames players - the Korpedo is on fire recently and is showing the type of confidence the team needs to see from him and the resulting on-ice production.
- Radim Vrbata took a HUGE open ice hit (perfectly clean) from Cory Sarich, but the Coyotes still maintained pressure.
- Officials really swallowing the whistle early tonight as hooks and trips of Korpikoski and Lee Stempniak were just watched by the refs without a call.
- Stempniak finally breaks his LONG goalless drought after a great effort by Taylor Pyatt to negate an icing and win the puck got the puck to Vernon Fiddler and Fiddy fed the Desert Ninja in front for his first goal in 21 games. 1-0 Coyotes.
- Shane Doan steals the puck from hated former Coyote Olli Jokinen and for good measure draws a penalty on the Swede. Coyotes get the first power play of the game.
- Coyotes don't create much pressure until the very end of the man advantage when they got a few shots through but Miikka Kiprusoff was able to make the saves.
- A great save by Kipper on Ray Whitney sends the Flames down the ice and a lucky bounce off of Rostislav Klesla goes right on the tape of Jokinen and he puts it in an open net. 1-1.
- Jarome Iginla rings one off the post early in the second period and Bryz is thanking his posts early tonight.
- Eric Belanger gets a breakout pass from Korpikoski after Doan clears the zone and roofs one over Kipper while holding off of the defensive pressure. A great goal by Belanger as that entire line appears to be heating up. 2-1 Coyotes.
- On an icing call, Klesla gets driven into the boards and barely retaliates. Somehow that negates what should have been a Coyotes power play. On the ensuing 4-on-4 Belanger nearly adds his second, but Kiprusoff bats the puck over the cross bar as it was floating over his head while he was on the ice. Another great save by Kiprusoff who is keeping the Flames in this game right now.
- Bryz is tested late in the second after a nice feed in front leads to a point blank shot by that Bryz turns aside (not sure who took these shots and replay was not forthcoming).
- Andrew Ebbett takes an annoying holding penalty that might cost him some ice time. This penalty is starting to drive me nuts as the Coyotes are called for it constantly, but when it is done to the 'Yotes, no call is forthcoming. Call it both ways or not at all...
- After killing the penalty, the Coyotes drive to the net and Keith Yandle is the beneficiary of a fortuitous bounce as his crossing pass to Whitney goes off the Flames d-man and through Kipper to give the Coyotes a 3-1 lead.
- Just seconds later, Michal Rozsival steps into one and blasts it (possibly off of a Flames player again) and it's now 4-1 before the Flames have even had a chance to breathe.
- After a Korpikoski high sticking penalty (no idea where it happened), the Flames win a faceoff and Mikael Backlund roofs one past Bryz with Iginla and Curtis Glencross in front of the net. Iginla gets an assist and its his first point against the Coyotes for the season (thanks FSAZ for jinxing that earlier.
- Alex Tanguay has a great opportunity, but the back-door pass is too far in his legs and he has to make an extra move allowing Bryz to shut the opportunity down.
- Tanguay makes up for it a few minutes later roofing one over Bryz's shoulder as he was in a crouch. It's an unreal shot and can't really blame Bryz as all the momentum is with the Flames with 10 minutes left. 4-3 Coyotes.
- With some great end to end action, both goalies are making saves. Niklas Hagman dances through the defense and gets into the slot, but Bryz is able to swallow up his shot. Just over five to play and the Coyotes still cling to a one goal lead.
- Derek Morris launches Fiddler on a breakaway but Fiddler can't deke past Kiprusoff and it stays a one goal game. Fiddler gets stoned again a moment later from the slot after a great effort by Stempniak.
- With Kiprusoff on the bench the Flames throw everything and the kitchen sink at the Coyotes, but Bryzgalov and the defense holds strong and keeps pushing the puck out of the zone as the Coyotes hold on for the 4-3 victory in regulation.
OUR THREE STARS
1. Lee Stempniak - breaks his LOOOOOONG goalless drought and played solid in all three zones all game. This is the type of game the Coyotes need from the Desert Ninja down the stretch.
2. Eric Belanger - he scores the goal, so he can be the representative of this line that simply dominated the ice all game with Doan and Korpikoski.
3. Michal Rozsival - representing the Czech d-men who both played a solid game. Rozsival had some good rushes and scored a nice goal from the point.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
A quieter GDT without a few regulars in attendance, but 236 comments on the night. Your leaders (after me with 53)